General Election 2017

Everyone who stands for election to public office must commit to ending violence against women and girls.

What do the party manifestos say about ending violence against women & girls?

The party manifestos all have significant and prominent pledges on tackling violence against women and girls.

Our short summary on these pledges is here, and below is our longer review of commitments in this area. We will update this page if any further commitments are made.

Conservative Party manifesto

  • New Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner
  • New domestic violence legislation
  • New Victims Law to guarantee a high standard of police and courts response; and training for prosecution lawyers in rape cases, as well as the ability for sexual violence complainants to record their evidence and be cross-examined pre-trial
  • Review of domestic violence refuge funding and guarantees that domestic violence survivors will not lose their tenancies. Funding for sexual violence support services, and for specialist BME women-led services, is not mentioned.
  • Relationships and Sex Education in all schools
  • A focus on increasing ‘online safety’ such that online abuse is regarded as seriously as offline, with a particular focus on children and young people
  • Dedicated provision for women offenders (includes high proportion of women with histories of abuse)
  • Human Rights Act guaranteed only until Brexit is completed, and adherence to European Convention also only through the next Parliament
  • Will work to reduce asylum claims and possibly change the legal definitions, while no reference to gender related asylum claims nor to the detention of asylum seeking women
  • Impact of immigration enforcement on women experiencing abuse not mentioned
  • FGM alluded to only within international development policy

Labour Party manifesto

  • New Violence Against Women Commissioner
  • A National Refuge Fund and stability for rape crisis centres, based on recognition of impact of cuts to date on local, independent support services
  • Tax credits ‘rape clause’ to be abolished, and the requirement to prove domestic abuse to access legal aid with costly doctor’s letter to be abolished
  • Housing benefit restored for under-21s (young women are at higher risk of abuse and are more vulnerable when homeless)
  • Clear commitment to retaining the Human Rights Act
  • New Victims Law; and ending of cross-examination of victims by perpetrators
  • Will review the anti-radicalisation Prevent programme to assess its effectiveness and whether it alienates minority communities (some women’s groups have found the merging of some policy and funding for FGM and forced marriage work with anti-terrorism work very challenging)
  • Will end indefinite immigration detention
  • Broad commitment to effective measures to prevent FGM
  • Relationships and Sex Education in all schools

Liberal Democrats manifesto

  • Funding for the national rape crisis helpline
  • Clear commitment to retaining the Human Rights Act
  • Tax credits ‘rape clause’ to be abolished
  • New Victims Bill of Rights; and review of investigation/prosecution/evidence rules in domestic and sexual violence cases (although no examples or aims are given, so this pledge is unclear; Lib Dems have previously pushed for the retrogressive step of anonymity for defendants in rape cases)
  • Will end indefinite immigration detention, making it maximum 28 days
  • Establish a Women’s Justice Board to meet needs of women offenders (includes high proportion of women with histories of abuse)
  • Relationships and Sex Education in all schools
  • Alarming proposal to decriminalize the sale and purchase and “management of” the sale of sex (women and girls are harmed by prostitution, and legal regimes which permit it lead to increased local ‘demand’ and to internal and international trafficking)
  • ‘Honour-based’ violence and FGM referred to only as significant in development and foreign policy making

Green Party – full manifesto not yet launched, but women’s manifesto published 13 May

  • Reverse cuts to abuse support services, and will fund BME women-led services to tackle ‘honour-based’ violence and FGM
  • National strategies on domestic violence and FGM (but not mentioned for other forms of violence)
  • Clear commitment to retaining the Human Rights Act
  • Tax credits ‘rape clause’ to be abolished
  • Relationships and Sex Education in all schools alongside teacher training in this area and media literacy
  • End detention of pregnant asylum seekers and those whose claims are related to gender based violence
  • Will work towards closing Yarls Wood immigration detention centre and ending immigration detention; will end the destitution of those with insecure immigration status
  • Prominent section calls for the decriminalisation of the sale and purchase of sex (women and girls are harmed by prostitution, and legal regimes which permit it lead to increased local ‘demand’ and to internal and international trafficking)

Women’s Equality Party manifesto

  • Will seek to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of availability of independent, women-led support services and fund them with grants (as to current competitive tendering), and will scrutinize non-specialist providers
  • Tax credits ‘rape clause’ to be abolished
  • Relationships and Sex Education in all schools
  • Restore legal aid, end cross-examination by perpetrators, training for juries
  • Forbid parallel legal systems
  • End detention of pregnant asylum seekers, shut Yarls Wood, limit all immigration detention, support non-British women spouses of British men facing abuse including abandonment
  • Separate VAWG work from anti-extremism work
  • Better training for workers on FGM and more global cooperation work in this area
  • Dedicated work on women offenders
  • Decriminalise the sale of sex but criminalise the purchase of sex in order to switch the policing focus to those who create demand for prostitution; this will be alongside provision of support for those who want to get out of prostitution.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition has published its own ‘Priorities for Government’, and sent it to all party leaders, which calls for reform across the criminal justice system and other public services, sustainable funding for life-saving support services, and the retention the Human Rights Act. The EVAW Coalition has also created a toolkit for supporters whom it is encouraging to contact their local Parliamentary candidates.

#Vote2EndVAWG

On 8 June 2017 people across the UK will vote for their local Member of Parliament in a general election.

We’ve set out the Priorities for Government to end violence against women and girls.

We’ve written to party leaders asking:

  • If elected, would your Government ensure that women and girls’ rights are protected during Brexit negotiations? This means that the many advances in equality and human rights law which benefit women in the UK are protected.
  • If elected, will you improve the way the criminal justice system handles these crimes – including acting urgently to stop the use of victim-blaming sexual history, and ensuring all women have access to legal aid and advocacy for as long as they need it?
  • If elected, will you ensure that every woman and girl at risk can get the support she needs, whether it be crisis accommodation, counselling for abuse that happened many years ago or legal advocacy and advice?
  • If elected, will you make it a priority for all public services, especially the health service, schools and the welfare system, to play their part in tackling abuse? This means health workers being trained not to miss abuse; stopping welfare rules which stigmatise women, such as the rape clause; asylum and immigration systems which do not deter women from seeking protection; and schools delivering the best possible Relationships and Sex Education.

In the run up to 8 June candidates are in listening mode – this is your chance to let them know that you expect to see action!

Use the materials here – which include an Activist Guide and Template email/letter.

If candidates reply to you please send the reply to us if you would like us to include it on this page, where we will keep track of as many pledges as we can.

Share any response you receive and use it after the election to hold those who are elected to account.

We have so far received the below responses:

Louise Haigh MP (Labour- standing to be re-elected MP for Sheffield Heeley)

Contact us for any help or advice on how to campaigning in these elections! #Vote2EndVAWG

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Check out our Activist Guide

In the run up to 8 June candidates are in listening mode – this is your chance to let them know that you expect to see action!

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